PGA Tour pro Mackenzie Hughes recalls childhood Ticats games at Canadian Open

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Professional golfer Mackenzie Hughes is experiencing childhood nostalgia at this year’s Canadian Open in Hamilton, including some regarding the local CFL team.

“I went to Ticats games, a handful of them when I was a kid,” Hughes told 3DownNation. “I’ve been there cheering them on and I know all the chants: ‘Oskee Wee Wee.'”

The Dundas, Ont. native is seven under par through two rounds at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, a course he’s played around 50 times in his life. That places him near the top of the leaderboard entering the third round of the tournament with a chance to become the sixth Canadian to win the event he once volunteered at as a kid.

Hughes, who turned pro in 2012, has four wins to his credit, including two on the PGA Tour. He claimed the RSM Classic in 2016 and the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2022. In 2021, he tied for sixth place at The Open Championship, recording the highest-ever finish by a Canadian. He currently sits 68th in the world golf rankings.

Unfortunately, his busy schedule that comes with being a professional golfer has made it difficult to keep up with his childhood CFL team.

“I can’t say that I do, honestly. It’s hard enough with three kids to follow the Leafs when I’m on the road,” Hughes admitted. “I kind of keep tabs on it as they get a little further along with the season and I feel like people back home keep me updated on what’s going on in the CFL.”

There are opportunities to reconnect with the three-down game at the Canadian Open. Bryan Crawford, the Toronto Argonauts’ all-time leader in special teams tackles, has been the tournament director since 2018, ensuring lots of CFL flavour.

On Wednesday, former CFL fullback and current Ontario minister of tourism, culture and sport Neil Lumsden took part in the celebrity Pro-Am, along with his son Jesse and former all-star receiver Andy Fantuz. Ex-Ticats Peter Dyakowski and Simoni Lawrence caddied for the event, as did former Montreal Alouette and NFLer Vaughn Martin.

Dyakowski is among the former players volunteering at the tournament, as the Tiger-Cats’ Alumni Association is in charge of waste collection and recycling while raising money to help its membership. Former hard-hitting safety Rob Hitchcock is helping with competition support on the ShotLink scoring system.

With the CFL preseason wrapping up on Friday night, about a dozen Tiger-Cats are expected to be in attendance to check out the third round on Saturday. An equivalent Argos crew, including projected starting quarterback Cameron Dukes, are going on Sunday for the final round.

In 2023, Nick Taylor made a 72-foot eagle putt in a playoff to become the first Canadian to win our country’s Open in 69 years. Hughes is currently to win this year’s tournament.

There are Canadian Open tickets available for the final two rounds, found by clicking here.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.